Carpentersville and West Dundee officials have started preliminary discussions on consolidating services within their fire departments, talks that come at a critical time for West Dundee's finances.
The nature of the consolidation, the services involved and the money it could save have not been determined, but future talks are expected to lay out that groundwork.
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"There will be a math problem that shows all the communities why we should do it," Carpentersville Village Manager J. Mark Rooney told the audit and finance commission last week. "The political will's the back half of this."
West Dundee is projected to lose between $300,000 and $400,000 in annual sales tax revenues once its Target store closes in May. Village officials are expected to discuss the financial ramifications next month during budget proceedings, Finance Director David Danielson said.
Carpentersville budgeted more than $5.5 million for its fire department in the fiscal year ending April 30. The department fields 32 full-time firefighters and 29 part-timers.
The West Dundee Fire Department, meanwhile, consists of 11 full-time firefighters and 30 part-timers. Officials there budgeted almost $2 million for the fire department, Danielson said.
The consolidation talks started about a month ago with a meeting between West Dundee Fire Chief Randy Friese, West Dundee Village Manager Joseph Cavallaro, Rooney, Village President Ed Ritter and Public Safety Director Al Popp, who oversees both the police and fire departments in Carpentersville.
The two villages already respond to each other's fires as part of a long-standing mutual aid agreement.
"We're just exploring what else can we share that would save the taxpayers money and at the same time provide better service," Friese said.
Three years ago, discussions on consolidation among police departments in West Dundee, Sleepy Hollow and East Dundee fell apart after Sleepy Hollow pulled out over autonomy issues and after concluding the village wouldn't save as much money as officials hoped.